I still wear my original Pebble. It's reliable with very long battery life, and is one of the very few wearables that works well while wearing gloves.
Wearables will gain more traction when wearing them actually enhances their value (fitness trackers that measure your pulse, VR headsets glasses that change what you see).
Smart watches, unfortunately, were just redundant. The entire idea of a smart device is that it has everything you need on one device. Carrying two smart devices makes no sense, and the phone got here first.
I don't care about apps or watch faces or any of that stuff.. I use it for (1) notifications and (2) the calendar timeline..
Being able to glance at my wrist when I get an email or a phone call (or any notification) without having to fish my phone out of my pocket, especially in the winter when it's deep inside my coat, is invaluable.. I can quickly decide "do I need to deal with this right now" (which for me, during the work day, is important).
Being able to tap the down button and see the next thing in my calendar (or the thing after that, etc) is also super useful.
For me personally, that's the killer app, and it's why I am so sad that Pebble is gone, because their calendar timeline was innovative and super useful (to me at least), and combined with quickly checking notifications, made my Pebble Time as essential as my wallet when leaving the house.
Also, it looks great.. Better than any other smart watch that provides the same functionality.. And the battery lasts for a week..
Ok I'm going to stop, because now I'm just bumming myself out that my Time Steel 2 will never arrive.. :-(
I've always believed the watch will replace the phone. It's easier to carry than a phone.
I would replace my iphone with a smartwatch in a heartbeat but unfortunately the current models are too limited: no 4g/lte, poor battery, no carplay, not easy to read data(i.e emails), too bulky etc.
The main issue is that the watch is just not good enough for now but eventually it will get a big chunk of the marketshare.
What you gain is (some are more or less debatable and/or situational):
1) Stability. The device cannot be knocked out of your hands or dropped, unlike 5" phone. I can give you two situations where this is very safe where a phone isn't: in a store, and on a bike.
2) 24/7 on you, with the advantages you mentioned.
3) Less chance of the device getting grabbed out of your hands. If the device looks like a normal watch (and not like an Apple Watch) the chance of getting robbed for your watch stays approx the same.
4) Information leaking. Phone has this too. Phone has larger screen, watch with t-shirt is 24/7 seen.
I think the comparison being made was between armbands and smart watches, not armband phones vs. regular phones. I don't know about you, but I _certainly_ can't use both hands to interact with a watch on my wrist.
Well, we were talking about watches completely replacing the phone, then saying you need a bigger screen for that, so at that point I think it's legit to compare "a watch with phone-like screen" vs regular phone.
Or the more realistic kind that project on a wall in a dark room?
Also, I take way more pics of the kids with my phone than my dSLR simply because I never know what they'll do next and I always have my phone with me.
1: even the marketing video has a guy taking creepshots: http://www.theverge.com/2013/12/22/5235278/samsung-awkward-g...
It's just a shame that when we get to the point of having all the world's intelligence accessible to us instantaneously, it's going to be mediated through institutions that are actively selling us out to the prison system.
(Ah, here we go: http://www.androidcentral.com/samsung-galaxy-gear-camera-sam...)
It's understandable you want to offer attractive perks with your Kickstarter, but at that time the Pebble brand among tech enthousiasts was big enough to limit the discount and stress the early adoper angle. You have several thousands of customers eagerly waiting for your next generation product, in that case there's no need to give steep discounts in the perks.
I guess the Pebble management was too focused to make the last Kickstarter another well-publicized runaway success, so that they could use that success to convince investors once again. But in the process they discounted their product, their brand and ultimately their chances of survival.
What the crowdfunding platform was able to do for them was to gamify the process, and reward early adopters. It's part of the reason why they have a great community behind them. They treat their early adopters well.
I think in some ways this should be a wake up call for Kickstarter, Pebble was their biggest success story until now.
I also know a few creators that didn't find profitable distribution models and/or demand post Kickstarter.
I also know a few creators that failed to execute production and folded before delivering rewards.
^^^^^ These sound like fates of business of all types started from many different sources of capital.
I do know the path Eric and Pebble carved was inspiration to all the above. And many feel indebted.
It's very sad news on Pebble, tho 'shock' is not the right word for it, as many of us physical product KS creators know too well the risks of development, tooling up, cash flow, and managing delivery expectations. It is a high stakes game.
How about the Coolest Cooler? You don't think they were inspired by Pebble? Or the Ubuntu phone?
that's depressing :( i was hoping that they had just misexecuted, and someone else would step in and fill the niche of "e-ink watch with long battery life that is geared towards displaying things your phone sends it"; i have no use for fitness tracking and biometrics, and pebble's featureset and reasonably open ecosystem was ideal for me.
the saddest thing is that even buying used pebbles on ebay won't help me much with their servers going offline :(
...and this is the failure of the IoT in a nutshell.
The fundamental problem of the current take on IoT is a misunderstanding of the internet part. Our systems should be decentralized and find routes to nearby systems that are available. So, to be an active actor within the arena of pico-net, local net, internet. Currently, most IoT systems mostly connect to some central, unprotected server hosted in <insert-cheap-labor-country-youve-never-heard-of>.
ETA: Disclosure: worked for Qualcomm/AllSeen Alliance for years on AllJoyn
I think Weave will probably win this battle. It is tied to Google, but less so than Homekit is to Apple and it doesn't have the insane MFi requirements. Also the (draft) design seems quite nice. They just need to hurry up and finish it.
My rant about IoT was obviously pointed at the useless IoT toys currently flooding the market.
Do you know if there's any documentation on the low-level protocol that doesn't involve using the big SDK? I'd love to just write a python (or similar) script to do this grunt work.
 https://github.com/dotMorten/AllJoynLightingController for example
There's probably someone emptying their dryer right now dreaming about preparing a slide deck for a new IoT lint catcher startup. I've recently read a proposal for using block chain to try to track whether children have done their homework, so I willing to believe anything right now.
...just kidding! Rather than convincing anyone to spend three figures on an IoT lint device, any marketing campaign would just convince them to just check the damn screen!
Thankfully, the community is stepping up to fill that gap: http://rebble.io/
I thought Pebble really nailed balancing the engineering tradeoffs that go into a smartwatch, but I guess it didn't translate into mass market appeal. It's surprising how quickly things turned after the modest success of the Pebble Time.
1. Resemble an actual, reasonably sized watch.
2. Display notifications from my phone along with their actions (such as marking an email as "Done" in Inbox, or liking a Tweet).
3. Allow me to respond with my voice for notifications that support quick replies.
The Pebble Time Round was great at all three, and (as far as I know) was the only watch to have the features that I wanted in a form factor that resembled a reasonably-sized watch. The only other alternatives currently are Android Wear watches, all of which don't look like the kinds of watches I like to wear (they're thick, with large bezels and superfluous embellishments).
If I knew for sure that a Pebble Time Round would continue to be useable for the next six months, I'd buy one in a heartbeat, but the uncertainty makes me hesitant to spend the $100+ on one.
These are the killer apps for smart watches. Pretty much everything else the Apple Watch does is a waste of time, just replicating functionality that is easier and better experienced on your phone.
The Apple Watch (and others) are trying to solve a bunch of other non-problems that don't exist for 99% of the real world.
They would be better products if they had less features.
I don't want or need a fitness tracker. Judging by other comments I'm not the only one.
> Apple Pay
...is not supported in most places where I live, so it's a gimmick at best.
Maybe I'm weird but I don't find voice input acceptable in social situations and don't want to rely on speech recognition when it comes to technical terms or mixed language input (I'm not in the US).
For me "a controlled subset of your smartphone's notifications on your wrist" is the killer app. Everything else is a gimmick.
I find Siri very useful indeed for one thing in particular, which is to set reminders. This has been a very useful feature of smartwatches, and I might even consider it a "killer app". Other than that, sending some messages from the watch and setting timers I don't use Siri.
I would agree about the utility of watch notifications. For example, if my Nest camera spots a human figure on my property I get a photograph of them turn up as a notification on my watch, which is awesome.
The fitness tracking is of little interest and not really very useful given my main sporting activities involve sparring - blocking punches is not an activity which suits wearing an expensive watch.
Can it do ANYTHING else well? Especially if you're outside USA?
When I was using Android Wear and Google Now that was all I wanted; the rest of Google Now was far too much of a nuisance. If Pebble could have handled reminders as easily I'd have been using that instead.
I have a Mi Band 2 with a 1 month battery life. It does everything i Ned. I'm pretty sure all of the above features would be possible with the Mi Band display, at a very low price.
I think smartwatches will split inyo fashion (Apple) vs Utility, depending on whether Google or Microsoft figure oit payments and assistants.
Pebble bezel: http://i.imgur.com/xllAVAu.jpg
Pebble Time Round was around 36mm and 7.5mm thick. It actually looks like a normal watch on your wrist. With 3 times the battery of Android.
I think it's the combination of diameter and thickness. When I looked at an Android it was just that bit too imposing. If either dimension shrinks I'll look again.
Perhaps this is true, but hopefully not any longer among HN readers:
- Antonie van Leeuwenhoek: world first microbiologist, huge improvements in the microscope
- Martinus Beijerinck: discoverer of the virus
- Produces the Nuna, which won the world solar challenge in Australia 5 times
The Porceleyne Fles, the only remaining Delft blue manufacturer, is now a touristy place, employing probably less than 50 people.
The TU is one of the better universities in the Netherlands, employing almost 5000 people, and around 16.000 students.
- Inventor of Bluetooth (Jaap Haartsen) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jaap_Haartsen
- M.C. Escher
My Pebble Time Steel broke (actually just the band), just before these announcements and I got a refund (spendable only at the company I bought the Pebble, but that's ok.) But I miss it! I miss the the notifications, I had gotten completely used to putting my Phone somewhere, anywhere withing BT range for the duration of the day. 99% of notifications do not require immediate attention (I also strictly filter what was allowed through to the watch) but some do and the ability to see that on your wrist is gold to me.
For now, sadly, there is no replacement that even comes close. I really want an always one screen and at least 5 days of battery life.
Pebble was everything I wanted from a smartwatch:
* a water-resistant Android-compatible wrist-mounted bluetooth watch
* that shows me real-time notifications from my smartphone (but lets me filter notifications to kill the noise)
* that allows me to pause/resume smartphone audio
* that has an always-on display I can read in broad daylight
* and that can go a number of days without charging
Now that Pebble is gone, I'm regretting not having bought the Pebble 2 because I'm worried there's nothing I can replace my Pebble Time Steel with when the time comes.
I don't need nor want a fitness tracker -- I'm only interested in sleep tracking and I prefer charging my watch while I sleep. A heartrate monitor would be fun but just a gimmick.
Ironically I never had any use for wrist watches before I bought my first Pebble and now I feel naked without it. But I don't want to spend hundreds of dollars for something I really just want to tell me the time and buzz and show me notifications without having to pull my smartphone out.
Did you take a look at Vector Watch?
I'll keep an eye on them, for now them may make it somewhat cheaper and somewhat smaller (half the battery life is still very nice) but definitely Vector comes closest to the Pebble indeed.
For those interested: http://vectorwatch.com/
I honestly don't understand this line of thinking. Why not, you know, sell something for more than it costs?
Let's assume that a company's yearly costs are $1 million. They will sell one widget a year. That widget will now "cost" more than $1 million if they want to be in the black. But if they will sell 1 million widgets, now one widget will "cost" more than $1. (There's a lot of slop here, as the marginal costs will have gone up since you greatly increased production.)
Basically, you have fixed costs, and when you sell many of a thing, you build in the fixed costs, along with the marginal unit cost, into the final price the consumer pays. The problem comes when the size of your market is such that the cost you would need to stay in the black is well more than any reasonable consumer would pay. In Pebble's situation, there surely would be a one-watch cost that would keep them in the black, but that number could be in the thousands or tens-of-thousands. That's when you, as the CEO, start to think about shutting down the business, because that unit cost would be absurd.
I think you may be thinking of the "cost" of the watch as the marginal cost it takes to pump out one more from a production line. But you also have to take into account all of the fixed costs (software developers, administrators, server infrastructure, getting the production line ready, etc).
They couldn't just charge more to cover R & D, because you need to hit a price point that your target audience will pay.
They could have gone for a higher price point, but then they're competing more directly with Apple and other premium brands like Gamin.
Investing in R & D to fuel future growth is a normal and reasonable thing to do. It just didn't work out for them, as it turned out the overall market for this product category isn't growing as fast as early indications suggested it would.
must've been a fun couple of hours
They originally launched in 2012 so I don't think your "couple of hours" are likely fair.
Some times you just can't sell an item for more than it costs.
This is particularly true for technology companies who are pushing the envelop on the technology front. For example, the EO-444 tablet sold for $2000 in 1993.
(Chinese can outcompete you on price, always.)
The screen may not be as gorgeous as a phone screen, but it is on all the time.
Before the acquisition, I would not trade it for the first generation Apple Watch. Maybe the second one, just maybe, if the community does not find a way to keep the current Pebble devices running.
And I don't know if it still has this feature, but the OS had something that when it was really close to dying it'd switch off all the bluetooth and smarter bits and display a basic watchface, so it'd keep working as a watch for a few more days. That was awesome.
Something that really attracted me to pebble was just how easily I could make a simple app and get it loaded on my watch.
Other than the fact that he would need to fire everybody, what is wrong with reducing costs to make it profitable like this? The problem seems like there wasn't enough profit to support a staff of 120 people. I can't imagine the VCs would object. They already lost their money.
Secondly, the cap table is probably fucked. It's hard to go down to a 10 person company without fixing the cap table. It's probably something like VCs own 55%, founders 25%, employees 20%. So for it to "behave" like a 10 person company, you want to recap it and make it more like a Series A company (investors 35%, founders 50%, remaining employees 15%). If you don't it's shitty for the founders and remaining employees.
If you do, it's shitty for investors. Who wants stock in a Series A company at Series C prices? They wouldn't even have product market fit. And given they have the option to get their money back instead, I'd wager they'd all vote to sell.
A final reason is that the culture of a company changes as it grows. They'll currently have a "big company" mentality. They'd have to switch to a "small startup" mentality, which might be tough: they might not even have "small startup" employees left (it's not uncommon to see early employees leave when the company gets too big for them to enjoy).
Whereas if he starts a new company, he'll find it really easy to raise money, he can probably pull away the employees that he needs from FitBit, and he'll own almost all of it.
The investors aren't getting their money back no matter what the cap table looks like now. Pebble went bankrupt. The founders are also walking away with nothing. No money from selling the company but also no debt - that's the benefit of limited liability.
If there was $40m, it's likely the founder got _something_, even if it's just 200k. There has to be financial incentive for him not to burn it to the ground, and the VCs probably don't want to get a founder-unfriendly reputation over a "small" chunk of cash.
The financial and legal incentive is not going to jail and not being personally liable for any of the company's debts.
You mean like dropping warranty support and a vague statement about cloud based features degrading over an undisclosed amount of time?
I'm curious about this. If the app and website are bad enough to stop using them, why do you have multiple? I would have expected the issues would be noticeable with just the first device.
He thought he could make a better deal back in the good days, overestimating the value of his company and NOT selling when the time is right. I don't buy it that he sold to Fitbit because Fitbit promised to keep the employees, this is exactly the bullshit I expect him to say to an interview to paint his story a courageous one.
Pebble was an amazing startup with a lot of potential and good ideas (I find their short developer manual in C as one of the best introductions to C programming with practical examples ever written), but the CEO overestimated his company's maturity and value. Which is a shame. Let's hope Fitbit keeps alive some of the legacy.
Sounds like Eric thought the company could have survived. I give him props for sticking with it as long as possible.
Pebble's problem is the lack of features, and specific to users of iOS like myself, relative instability and weirdness when it comes to important things like notifications. The monochrome screen is also less attractive though IMO bearable.
Apple Watch's problem is battery life. It's absolutely unattractive to me to have yet another thing I need to charge once a day. It wins on pretty much everything else but such a low battery life is crippling to this sort of device.
I feel like between the two you have a rough approximation of the laptop offerings of the early 80's. Yes, they did exist and some people used them, but by and large they were terrible for the functions they were built for. I have a feeling in not even that much time, we'll have proper smart watches with good integration across platforms that will have a screen like Apple's and the life of a Pebble, but for now, laying out $250 for what's basically a bleeding edge prototype is unattractive to the mainstream consumer.
Edit: Question for HN: Would you all consider a Fitbit to be a smartwatch? I mean it's a watch-esque device that does more intelligent things than just a regular watch but I feel like that's more of a wearable monitoring device.
I got the Pebble 2 from Kickstarter, having also ordered the Time 2, and was blown away by how sharp the P2 screen is -monochrome and all. Very sad I won't get the new Time 2, as I felt the Pebble Time Steel display was a step backwards from the OG Steel in terms of readability.
My first reaction to the news was to locate a white P2 on Amazon to replace my wife's Pebble Time. Hope to get it just in time for Christmas.
I'm still very sad about how it all panned out, for the team and all the loyal fans, and selfishly so mostly because I won't see the Time 2 - not only would the display be a massive improvement, but CPU and memory also.
Even if the battery life wasn't that good, is it really that hard to take your watch off before bed and set it on a magnetic charger? I've worn watches my whole life and have never slept with them on.
But as long as it lasts for more than a day, and if it charges fast enough, you could always charge it in the car on the way to work. Or charge it while in morning while in the shower.
I've also noticed on the odd occasion where i sleep with my apple watch on, the screen lights up too frequently as i roll over. The fitbit does that too, but isn't as bright.
Anyway, if you can barely/hopefully survive 2 days with it, it means you really need to charge it daily. Again, something I'd rather do while sleeping than at my desk.
In all likelihood I would charge it at work, not at home. But I get what you're saying, that's interesting.
The (colour-screen) Pebble Time and Time Steel have been on the market for about 1.5-2 years now, and also included a microphone for relaying voice commands to your phone. The Pebble 2 would've included all of this, plus a larger screen. It managed to preserve a battery life of (easily) the better part of a week.
RE your question: the FitBit isn't a smartwatch. It's designed around a single function (fitness monitoring).
While that is true of most FitBit models, the FitBit Charge 2 has some smartwatch features like notifications.
I would, which is why I wear a Garmin now despite having backed two Pebble Kickstarters. AFAIK, a FitBit does everything the original Pebble did, which was mainly put notifications on your wrist. I know my Garmin does everything that the original Pebble did (mainly notifications), and I can use it when I go running without having to bring my phone.
So, yeah, in comparison the original Pebble, FitBit is a smartwatch as defined by the smartwatch market in its current state. That doesn't mean that I don't think it's early days, just as you with your laptop comparison.
Fenix HR specifically because trail runner (need the extra battery for those really long runs), hiker (alt/bar/compass is nice), and all-around outdoorsy guy (device signals my outdoorsiness), in case that was the nature of your question.
It looks like the Samsung Gear S3 comes pretty close -- it runs Tizen (which is derived from Nokia's Maemo), so it looks like it should be easy to develop for. Also has an always-on screen, and "up to" a 3-day battery life.
I just wish they could make a screen that looks as good as AMOLED, but was passively illuminated during the daytime.
- battery life is very good compared to apple/android. I can usually get 2-3 full days of regular use with the ambient display on.
- It looks way more like a regular watch, most people don't notice unless you start using it. It also fits a lot better on my smaller wrist.
- The screen is amazing indoors, meh outdoors. Kind of the opposite of what I experienced with the pebble.
- Very limited app selection. I don't actually use any apps besides what it came with, and even then I think all I use is just the calendar and weather. I mostly have it for the notifications, which work extremely well, so I don't really care about that. Might be a bigger deal for you.
It can potentially be more expensive than a Pebble, but competitive with an Apple watch, if not cheaper (depending on model). As a fitness tracker and notification machine I'd say it's superior to an Apple Watch - I haven't had an Apple Watch but have had android wear devices which seem to be about the same in terms of battery life and functionality.
Everyone else is just in a drunken random walk.
So now there are watches that waste lots of battery on recording rough HR all day but totally fail reliably capturing HR during sport activities. I have no clue what they think that is doing, utterly useless.
* Telling the time
* Tracking my activity level
* Tracking my sleep
* Timer and occasionally a smart Alarm
* Letting me see my motivations without pulling my phone out.
* changing volume/track on spotify.
The fitbit charge 2 has most of those features, the main thing it's lacking are timer, smart alarm, spotify control and the more advanced alerts (apparently it only does text/calls and calendar). All those missing features are software features rather than hardware features, I kind of expect fitbit acquired pebble so it could get some of that technology.
Alas, nothing can replace it (yet)
My Pebble Classic (!) can do:
* Time/Date (with many watchfaces)
* Sleep tracker
* Alarms, Timers, and Stopwatch (smart alarm for sleep, other ones useful in the kitchen)
* HRM (via SimplyHRM or Strava)
* Running/bike tracking (native or e.g. w/Strava)
* Music control (Spotify, awesome during sports)
* Google Maps support (also with navigation)
* 2FA HOTP
* Oh, and notifications (w/filters)
* With recharging once a week. Which also means the battery is gonna last, unlike those watches who recharge daily.
* Works under shower, too.
* And all this, for the price of ~100 EUR (a few EUR for some of the above apps).
My Pebble had the dreaded graphics issue. Pebble 2 has build-in HRM, but it isn't as accurate as my Polar H7. Pebble 2 has a crystal clear screen, the design looks more professional, and the wristband is better than the previous iteration.
The only thing I've never quite been able to set up, is managing a shopping list for in the grocery store (just with the ability to flag what is done). I miss such a feature so much! Using my smartphone for this is a ticking timebomb. One day, a kid is just gonna bump into me and poof its gonna drop on the floor. Won't happen with a smartwatch. And that is a use case right there, one no other device than a smartwatch can fulfill.
I admit, smartwatch use cases right now are niches, but that doesn't mean they're irrelevant. Plus, in The Netherlands it is going to be illegal to use a smartphone on the bike. A smartphone is far more safe, and it won't drop. Being attached on the wrist has a clear advantage for use cases like these.
One disadvantage is information leaking. Although smartphones are also vulnerable to that.
But I'm not sure how they manage to claim a 5 day with a color LCD display, I guess I should add the "always on display" to the list of pebble features I used.
I wouldn't get a full smart watch, probably ever. I don't need a full screen on my wrist. For me, the killer features are: Tracks my steps/motion, tells time, vibration alerts and alarms.
If they can keep making it smaller / more like a wrist band, I'll buy each new version that comes out.
I want something small/subtle, not packed with features.
True. But the color is very nice. It's a bit washed out when the backlight is on, but ok.
The only use I found for the ones I've tried was glancing at text messages rather than taking out the phone, but even that let's people more easily interrupt me...
Thousands of people have had syncing issues for a long time, seems like they've fixed most of it now but I guess there is reason to believe it could happen again.
Meanwhile all of the smartwatch companies are desperately looking to move from a commodity hardware model to services with recurring revenue, i.e. software.
Which is funny, because turning my watch into a subscription service that won't work without an always-on internet connection is precisely what I don't want.
This industry-wide trend from products to everything-as-a-subscription-service may be nice for developers craving job security but it's awful for end users.
Judging by their Kickstarters' successes, Pebble had made "something people want", and they had made it repeatedly. Couldn't they have waited out the bad times with a lighter team, while tweaking the products and remaining profitable or at least just above zero?
120 people sounds enormous to me -- esp. given that all manufacturing was outsourced...?
Also hardware has very expensive customer support costs, lets say they had 1e6 sales and fifty customer support (to keep the math easy) and lets say a typical customer support dude burns an hour per ticket total (including training and everything back office) and works 2000 hours per year, thats 100000 or 1e5 customer service interactions per year. Thats only a 10% support rate. Of course the annual rate was probably much lower than 10%, and they probably had a lot less than 50 customer service employees, but you can see how selling consumer hardware can be incredibly expensive. Its very difficult to have a million units out there with fewer than say five people baby sitting them.
There's also the SV stereotype that it takes about Y folks in SV to do what 1 person in Chicago would do, where the value of Y is extremely debatable but certainly larger than 1. The nicest way to put it is if it takes six months to soak in the culture and we intend to double in size and sales every six months then need a team twice as big as it "needs" to be today to be ready in six months, and of course six months from now the team will have doubled again to keep up with the onramp to the next doubling 12 months out, etc. Of course when the growth rate doesn't achieve or flatlines or goes negative for a couple quarters then you have like ten people to do a one person job, so all sad company stories end this way, with why do you have 10M units worth of employees with only 1M sales, no wonder, blah blah.
What was the point of having a strong retail distribution, though, esp. given the nature of the product and its target market? If it's on Amazon why would it need to be available at Target or Walmart? Also, when you're small, keeping stock with big retailers can be very costly, not just in headcount but in cash.
If this was indeed part of their strategy it's weird.
This shift was primarily motivated by two factors:
1. I lost interest in the activity tracking features.
2. Even worrying about the battery once every 6 months was too much.
I looked hard at a Pebble at one point before deciding that, since my phone is almost always in my pocket or on the table in front of me, getting it into position for viewing information would take only nominally more effort and probably gets me to a place where I can act on whatever information the device is telling me much more efficiently. Also, having a non-user-replaceable battery means that the device will only live for so long, and I'm really trying to limit my consumption of disposable technology.
I think that, for now, my most optimistic case for smartwatches is that they're at about the same phase as handheld computing was 15 or so years ago. The technology is really interesting, but there needs to be more technology development and ironing out of subtle details before the idea is quite ready to take over the consumer market.
I'm not sure this is accurate. Pebble sold relatively well. They just couldn't get more customers beyond a certain point. It's a niche market.
Fitness trackers become obsolete quickly. They tend to be relatively cheap and there are a lot of sensors and software that can be iterated on to justify selling newer versions of the same product every year to the same people.
When the Pebble Steel came out, I gave my original Pebble away. The only reason I switched was that I liked the design of the new one better, the original still worked just as well as the new one.
When the Pebble Time Steel came out, I switched again and again the one I had at the time worked fine. The Pebble Time Steel had some new features but mostly it did much of the same.
I passed when the Pebble 2 came out because I couldn't justify paying again for a replacement to something that still worked as good as on the first day. The Pebble 2 brought some fitness features but was otherwise no different from what I already had.
Fitness trackers have planned obsolescence. The tech becomes outdated very quickly and the conditions in which they are used lend themselves to natural wear and tear. Utilitarian smartwatches on the other hand are expected to last.
Pebble sold me three smartwatches in almost as many years. They actually marketed four more in that time. They oversaturated the market and grossly overestimated the demand.
Their first Kickstarter generated $10MM, their second in early 2015 generated $20MM, their third generated $12MM. Considering they were falling in the red in 2015 and their 2016 campaign was doubling down on the fitness aspect and bombed in comparison to 2015, I don't buy the narrative that fitness tracking would have been a better focus.
: To recap: Pebble, Pebble Steel, Pebble Time, Pebble Time Steel, Pebble Time Round, Pebble 2, Time 2 and Pebble Core (which is not a smartwatch). The 2016 Kickstarter also saw the edition of silver/gold editions of the Pebble Round but those seem otherwise identical to the original.
Something like 80% of the market is special purpose wearables like Fitbits vs. 20% smart watches like Pebble and Apple.
One of the only companies in the segment that had good results in 2016 was Garmin which focuses on activity watches.
The fitness and activity tracker segment has several advantages:
-there's an obvious benefit to being wearable, so they're not competing directly with smartphones.
-they're selling into a rapidly growing market for "lifestyle" accessories.
-precisely that obsolescence that you mentioned means they can keep selling to existing customers.
-many people who use them get addicted to the gamification aspect of fitness tracking and will immediately replace broken items.
-sports equipment is expected to wear out in a way that premium watches are not, so watches that break after a year or two do not leave as much of a negative perception with customers.
Over the last few years, I noticed store catalogs giving much space to fitbit, and little to pebble (or apple watch).
Perhaps this is a crude exoscope, for viewing outside the bubble/RDF? Like Buffett observing people still actually using American Express, outside Wall Street's gloom.
Those catalogs now include iPhone 5s and Samsung Galaxy S5 alongside the flagships, suggesting "good enough" and flagships have overshot...
Where will the tech, talent and investment go, if smart phones and watches are good enough, and VR/AR is a wash?
Cloud services, I guess? They seem to be doing well enough to last until the next "big thing" comes along.
I'd be interested to know what he did get out of the deal. Sold for "south of $40M" and with the statement, "He’s not leaving Pebble as a wealthy man."
$40MM wouldn't be much buffer for a product that was about to go into manufacturing and distribution I would have thought?
I.e. all the costs of design, development and planning are sunk. And they didn't get to the stage of selling them to recoup any of that.
EDIT: Thanks for the downvote. Can I have the summary, please?
> TLDR: Because it was either that or shutting down (either completely, or with such a massive downsize that it would have been effectively the same thing).